Media coverage: Irish Times 16 November 2012, The Sunday Business Post 16 November.
Baby Milk Action has been asked to support a campaign in Ireland against baby food companies sponsoring awards to health workers. The event’s main sponsor is Pfizer/Wyeth, which is in the process of being taken over by Nestlé, and it uses the awards to promote its SMA brand of formula by calling them the SMA Know-How Maternity and Infant Awards. Danone, manufacturer of Aptamil and Cow & Gate brands, is also trying to get in on the advertising opportunity by using its formula brands for some of the awards.
Earlier this year (June 2012), members of the public protested to shopping centres in the UK that were going to host Pfizer/Wyeth’s SMA Baby Know How roadshow and this was cancelled – see press release.
In September 2012, Pfizer/Wyeth was found to have misled parents in an SMA advertising campaign in a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority – see press release.
Baby Milk Action is pleased to encourage people to sign the petition calling for an end to company sponsorship of awards to health workers in Ireland. Such sponsorship violates the Resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly to protect infant health.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:
“Health workers and parents – whether breastfeeding or formula feeding – need independent, accurate information on infant care. Pfizer/Wyeth and Danone are attempting to steal the good reputation of health workers by handing them awards with formula brand names attached, while using this as an advertising opportunity.
“Pfizer/Wyeth was found to have misled parents in a UK advertising campaign for SMA formula in a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority in September 2012. Companies have a vested interest in promoting their products and for this reason international marketing standards prevent them from contacting parents or advertising their products and call on health workers to guard against conflicts of interest. Companies are limited by the marketing standards to providing scientific and factual information to health workers.
“Don’t forget the cost of sponsored events such as these televised awards goes onto the price of formula, which is already overpriced to fund the SMA Baby Know How bus tour, mother and baby clubs and other promotional initiatives the companies use in violation of the marketing standards.
“Baby Milk Action has its own ‘No promotion, Cheaper formula’ campaign in the UK and we successfully stopped the SMA Baby Know How roadshow here by reminding the shopping centres due to host it of their responsibilities under the marketing requirements adopted by the World Health Assembly.
“We are pleased to promote the campaign in Ireland calling for companies to stop compromising the independence of health workers and applaud those health workers who have turned down these branded awards.”